(Jim) Crowing – An Open Letter To Al Melvin and The Arizona State Government

LISTEN UP, ARIZONA.

LISTEN UP, ARIZONA.

     Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a bone to pick with you. It concerns a bill that has passed the Arizona state legislature, and now sits on Governor Jan Brewer’s desk, awaiting either her affirming “Jane Hancock,” or her veto. You know which bill I’m referring to; SB 1062. It has been referred to in the media as the “Arizona Anti-Gay Bill.”

     Just this morning, I watched a short clip of an interview between CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and state senator Al Melvin. Mr. Melvin, I have a question for you: why could you not answer a simple question regarding discrimination? As Mr. Cooper noted, you have declared your intent to run in that state’s next gubernatorial race, and as he noted, you were unable (or unwilling!) to answer a single question with regards to possible discrimination issues involving people in your state.

     Mr. Melvin, SB 1062 has absolutely nothing to do with religious freedom, and you know it. It pertains to commerce. Commerce, as you are (hopefully) well aware, is a matter of profit and loss. Religious practice, on the other hand, is a matter of espousing and expressing faith in a particular ideology and / or deity. As most church establishments are 501(c)(3) non profit endeavors, there seems to be a marked difference between them, and say, a bakery or florist shop. Apparently, you are confused as to the divisions and restrictions of each type of establishment, and where the two should and shouldn’t be intertwined.

     Mr. Melvin, how exactly does one such as yourself get to be a state senator, with such decidedly bigoted values and views? Navy War College? Were you good at that? Perhaps you should go back to that, because you’re a dismal failure as a representative of the populous. I have little doubt that there are thousands of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual constituents in your state, that are looking at you and shaking their collective heads.

     Let’s leave my apparent angst for Al Melvin to the side for a second, and address this ill-conceived piece of legislation. SB 1067 is problematic in a number of ways. For one, it would require business owners to make a declarative statement with regards to their religious proclivities against serving members of the LGBT community. This harkens back to the days of Jim Crow laws, where businesses would display signs that read, “No Coloreds Allowed,” or “Whites Only.” I’m assuming that any declaration must be posted, as a business license must, in a conspicuous place. I foresee this as being akin to a “scarlet letter,” and here’s why. Let’s say I am a consumer, and I walk in to a store with one of these signs posted near the register. As a supporter of the LGBT community, I am not even going to bother looking for the merchandise that I’m seeking, not in this store. I see the label, I acknowledge it for the bigotry that it is, and I turn and leave. The business loses revenue.

     In addition, the bill is unconstitutional. It is nothing short of state-sanctioned discrimination against an entire group of people, based solely on their sexual preference. Should Governor Brewer sign this piece of legislation into law, it will assuredly result in millions of dollars being spent by the state to defend it against rightful challenges to its constitutionality. In other words, Arizona; this one’s gonna cost ya!

     Speaking of costing ya, I hear that none other than the denizens of One Infinite Loop, Apple, Incorporated, have expressed concern over the bill, and its possible impact on any decision to abandon its Sapphire Glass plant in Mesa. Jan! Hey, Jan? Are you hearing this? Tim Cook and Apple will likely hit your state right in the wallet, should you dare affix your signature to this!

     I guess it all comes down to one question, folks; what’s in your wallet!? At any rate, it’s like the latest memes say. We’ve already had this discussion, and you cannot discriminate against a particular demographic who wish to sit at the lunch counter.

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When Black Friday Comes…

Shopping Insanity - Feeding the Greed

     I wanted to wait until “Black Friday” was over before writing this blog article, so that all the issues would show themselves. All the madness, the ill will, the greed and the total lack of respect and consideration for our fellow human being that is Black Friday.

     I can’t personally fathom some of the stupidity that goes on on this, the day after Thanksgiving, a day when we’re supposed to be thankful for what we have been given in our short time on this earth. It seems like maybe too much turkey and stuffing makes people forget the thankfullness, and they get greedy. When they get greedy they become self-centered, destructive, inconsiderate and reckless. As a result of all of this, bad things happen. Things like grandfathers getting roughed up by off-duty police in Arizona. (1) Things like a Los Angeles woman pepper spraying other shoppers to keep them away from an xBox she wants, (2) and a host of other inhumanities. (3)

     I stayed at home yesterday. I watched movies with my family, drank coffee and poked around on the web. As the wall posts started appearing on Facebook from people out amongst the insanity, I just sat back and shook my head. Two hours to check out of Wal Mart? Driving around the parking lot for an hour just for a parking space? For what? Something you can probably order on-line at the same price or better! One of my cousins messaged that she had gone out for a copy of Battlefield 3, only to find after dealing with the crush and crowd, that the stores were already sold out. Immediately, I popped open another two browser tabs, surfed to GameStop and Amazon, and easily found the game in plentiful quantities on both sites. I messaged her back and informed her of this, while again shaking my head.

Capitalist encampment?

     In the midst of over two months of Occupy protests, another glaring discrepancy has come up. A lot of you have probably seen the pictures circulating through the internet of the tents erected outside of stores and malls on Thanksgiving evening. In contrast to the efforts of law enforcement to evict protesters from tent cities in parks, no efforts were made to prevent or prohibit these Black Friday encampments. The clear message this sends to the world? It’s perfectly fine to set up tents and occupy public and even private property, as long as you’re going to feed the greed machine and spend gobs of money on the economy the next day!

     Now that Black Friday is over and done with, retailers are deeming it a success.(4) Personally, I don’t see what’s so “successful” about a day that saw violence, greed and avarice being done on several levels, in stark contrast to the day before, a day where compassion and gratitude are encouraged. I instead find myself disgusted at a system of government and commerce that encourages these types of behaviours, while at the same time seeking to supress peaceful assembly and protest. It’s shameful, and I partook of none of it. (However, I will thank all of the greedy people out there for the great blog fodder you have provided me! You just extended my Thanksgiving by two whole days!)

When Black Friday comes,
I’m gonna dig myself a hole,
Gonna lay down in it, ’til
I satisfy my soul.

Gonna let the world pass by me.

The Archbishop’s gonna sanctify me.

And if he don’t come across,
I’m gonna let it roll.
When Black Friday comes
I’m gonna stake my claim,
I’ll guess I’ll change my name. (Steely Dan, “Black Friday” c1975.)